Person-Generated Health Data

As a matter of fact, if you do not know the speed and direction of the wind in a valid way, you don’t set up an umbrella today!

We know that there are many, too many, those who find it difficult (? – refuse? – are unable?) to connect the 4th industrial revolution with the mega-management not of “health” but rather of the generalization of the disease that was methodized worldwide as “the killer covid-19 and how to deal with it “. We know that there are many, too many, who don’t want (? – are unable?) to see that this ongoing terror campaign / management and the (capitalist) Paradigm shift (also) in terms of the dipole health / disease are two sides of the same coin. The reason why this inability / repression occurs, why it is so strong, and why – on the contrary – the inclination to “easy answers” is massively much easier in a wide range, from discipline / internalization in orders and prohibitions to a simplistic, merely reactionary but always individualized, Egotistical intolerance (towards orders), is something that concerns us. From a workers’, antagonistic point of view. But we will not deal with it here, now.

What we will present next is a rather mild but still impressive demonstration that the dipole health / disease has already begun to transform into something completely different from what the individual empiricism of each of us suggests. This transformation is not accidental. It is historically defined. It is the “compilation” (if the term is allowed) required by the general specifications of engineering of everything.

Evidation Health is a medium-sized American company that specializes in the utilization of personal data for “diagnostic”, “medical” purposes. (The quotes are due to the fact that the purposes could be completely different…). It was founded in 2012, initially, with the money of a financial arm of the well-known general electric (GE Ventures) and the planning of a medical arm of Stanford University (Stanford Health Care), in order to utilize personal data of any kind, provided with the consent of individuals that are involved in Evidation research programs.

In the 21-minute video that follows after our introductory / explanatory comments (we thank E. for the excellent work on a very difficult translation!), the CEO of Evidation, Luca Foschini, explains at the end of last January, before covid (to an audience which is certainly not us and you) how the generalized datafication of everyday life creates a “raw material”. That “raw material” whose mathematical / algorithmic processing can create “digital representations” of the totality of everyday life (of everyone) – something that interests, in this case, the bio-engineers of health. (The two-day conference was organized by Applied Machine Learning Days, which appears to be “the largest machine learning and artificial intelligence platform in Europe”…)

Having stressed in advance that neither machine learning nor artificial intelligence came from… covid-19 (!!) but that, on the contrary, these and many other technologies constitute the developing shield and at the same time the historical and politically physical capitalist “environment” in which the specific terrorising management of this trivial coronavirus gained meaning and expediency, we proceed to some basic comments.

First, something that is said at the very beginning and can escape attention. The transition of interest from the “personal data of the patient” to the “personal data of health” as a whole – of everyone. The transition is of strategic importance. The “patient”, the “disease”, is a time-limited condition. On the contrary, the whole of everyday life, 24/7, can be considered as “health”. Consequently, the 24/7 “creation”, “collection” and “processing” of personal data is an all-encompassing process that can refer (and indeed refers) to everything in everyday life.

Even sleep.

One of the main achievements of Evidation IT technicians is that they processed the different streams of different personal data in such a way that they could be represented as diagrams. Foschini calls the synthesis of these diagrams behaviorgram – an apt neologism!

These particular behaviourgrams, which are necessarily individual, include the processing of all data from commercial devices; Foschini insists on this point, wanting to stress that these increasingly popular “commercial devices” can already provide huge volumes of personal data…

The behaviorgram is, therefore, the digital representation of everyone’s daily life. Not of one’s (so to speak, in the old sense) “separate disease”, if any; not even of one’s “health”. Of one’s whole life. After all, cognitive decline and / or memory lapses that (as you will see in the video) are identified as “possible proto-morbid conditions” for the needs of both big pharma and the bio-info-security complex, are not the kind of sudden pain in the abdomen or rashes on the hands. They can “occur” (ie give data) at any time of the day and / or night!

“Health” and “disease” are constantly intertwined – according to the approaches of “preventive” and, now, “algorithmic / panoptic” medicine / security. That’s why continuous, 24/7 data streams to a control and certification center are needed; that’s why – in essence – there is no health anymore… There are only (not at all reassuring) intervals between mild or severe illnesses…

This is the rule they have already ordered us to incorporate, under the banner of covid-19, calling this state / capitalist norm “social responsibility”…

Beddit (formerly Finsor Oy) is a finnish technology company founded in October 2006 with the scope of creating devices for contactless measurement of hospital patients’ heart and respiratory rates. In 2013, it launched a crowd-funding campaign and after raising $ 500,000, introduced the first commercial version of a “sleep sensor”. In 2016, it had already collected the “sleep data” of 3 million nights of its users. The nights ceased to be magical… (In May 2017 it was acquired by apple).

What Beddit records / measures (in version 3.5 now) is sleep time, heart rate, breathing, snoring, movements during sleep, its stages, room temperature and humidity. It communicates via bluetooth with smartphones or similar devices. The device is not wearable, but a thin, 2 mm thick microcircuit strip, which is attached to the mattress, under the sheet, centered around one’s sleeping area. It also features a “smart alarm clock” that wakes up the person in the best phase of his/her sleep, so that he/she is “fresh”… It can also be programmed to select the best time for awakening during periods of vacation, rest, weekends, etc…

Does it make sense to have commercial interest in such a mechanical “snitch”? Answer “no” as many times as you want – you will soon be accused of being “technophobic”, if not “socially irresponsible”. For others (probably more) their sleep is a “mystery” about which they want to know as much as possible, and they can’t sleep and be awake, at the same time, to find out!

And for the health industry on the basis of the 4th industrial revolution, sleep is a situation where “a lot happens” – and some of that “a lot” can be “bad”! Since there is a potentiality of mechanical surveillance (also) of sleep, why not a “central health system” know its data… in order to prevent any harm?

Paraphrasing Benjamin: neither dreams nor nightmares are safe anymore…

Watch the video. If at some points you face difficulty, don’t give up. It is worth it: it is a moment of concrete awareness not of the future, but of the present…